Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oberhofer (The Interview)

Photo Credit: Agatha Donker

Oberhofer busted up on our radar early last year when we happened across a free EP the duo posted on its website, quickly gaining the band a Jam of the Day nod, as well as a spot on our Best Songs of 2010 list. But we're not the only ones who are keeping a close eye on these guys, considering they've been hand-selected to open for The Morning Benders, The Vaccines, and now Tapes 'n Tapes.

We sat down with Brad Oberhofer and Pete Sustarsic, the two youngsters who comprise Oberhofer, at Southern Rail in Carrboro, North Carolina, in a converted train dining car, over a round of Whiskey and Gingers, some tater tots, and a hummus plate. Our conversation, like our order, was diverse; it covered everything from finding a record label, to MTV's Skins, to sloppy shows at CMJ.

So you’re living in Brooklyn now? Via Tacoma?

Brad Oberhofer: Yeah – hopefully we will get a chance to get on some West Coast dates soon. We’re tired of the cold, you know?

You’re on your second North Carolina date. How far does this tour take you guys?

Pete Sustarsic (laughing): It kinda goes in a lot of little circles. It ends in Minneapolis with Tapes 'n Tapes on the 25th. Then we’re basically going back to New York.

B: We have one show in Dekalb, but so far we’ve been through Madison, Chicago, Iowa, Saint Louis – and that was just us before we met up with Tapes…

Where did y’all meet up with them?

B: Chicago.

P: Madison.

B: No, Chicago, right?

P: Madison.

B: Yeah, Madison.

Photo Credit: Agatha Donker

So, are you guys doing SXSW this year?

B: We WILL be there. We will. We’ve never done it. We’re really excited, man. 

You guys doing day parties?

B: Yeah, and night parties – should be really good. So far we’re only doing six shows, but we’re doing the Urban Outfitters showcase, the Brooklyn Vegan showcase, the RCRD LBL showcase, the Vice showcase, the SESAC showcase. 



Well, that sounds like enough for three days. You’ll be completely worn out after that, huh?

B: Actually we played eleven shows in five days at CMJ, and my voice was in PAIN, more so than it is now – it was crazy.

P: By the last show of the last day it was just like, oh my God, it was this sloppy place, and we played it as fast as we could.

B: Yeah, people were sloppy, everything was falling over, drinks were falling over. We were getting crazy feedback.

P: It was just time to finish…

B: Yeah, Vice filmed that – and scrapped it because even the camera men were falling over, it was such a sloppy room and there was tons of feedback, and everyone was really loud. It wasn’t even that late – it was like 7 PM, but it was a really crowded room – it was awesome. It was one of my favorite shows. Tiny and crowded.

Photo Credit: Agatha Donker

So are you guys signed to a label yet?

B: No, nope.

You obviously could have by now…

B: Yeah. 

Not going to, though? Inflated sells the 7" though, right?

B: Yeah, that’s my friend Dan’s label, they’re cool, they’re starting up and they're good, and they make really pretty records... It’s nice working with friends. (get it here)

Actually, how Speakers in Code found you guys was trolling through the Insound Top 25 List and listening to all the shit we didn't know.

B: Yeah, we were a top seller for like two weeks there for a while.

Yeah, it’s interesting how people find music now – and how they consume. So, plans for a proper record?

B: We’ll put out a proper record, and if the deal is right, and if it’s a family thing, we’ll go with a label. You know? If it’s a community of people that believes in it then, and we believe and trust in them, then why wouldn’t we? We just have to find the right family for us, and as soon as that happens, I think a lot of possibilities will be open. You know, we’re working on that right now, trying to tour around, spending a lot of money on that, and it’s sustaining itself…barely…

Have you collected songs thus far? Do you have a direction you’re going?

B: I’ve recorded about forty demos that I think would all be worthwhile to put on a record, and Pete and I have demo'ed out a few things, and we’re writing more with the band. I mean, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable playing with Pete, and Pete kind of knows where I am coming from more now.

Well, whatever you’re doing is working though, you know? We would have heard of you by now, blog or no blog.

P: Yeah, I hope so!

And you guys released the EP for free right? On Soundcloud?

B: It’s not actually an EP, it’s just a bunch of demos, and we didn't even post it on Soundcloud, someone else decided to do that for us...

Photo Credit: Agatha Donker

And how are we supposed to pronounce the name anyway? [It's spelled o0O0o0O0o.]

B: “Ooh.”

Really??

B: Well, actually it’s (singing) “Ooohie oh ooh oh oh ooh,” but that’s too much work, so we just say we’re going to play "Ooh."

So, if that wasn’t an EP, then you literally don’t have any official release out, huh?

P: Just the 7" we’re selling at the shows!

B: We don’t even sell CDs.

So, speaking of shows, how is the Tapes 'n Tapes tour going? We saw them years ago when they were the buzziest of buzz bands.

B: They were, yeah… 

And it’s been interesting to watch that second album fizzle, and the third album kinda just release with no real buzz...

B: I think the new album is good though. Really good. And working with David Friedman on the second album is complicated. I mean, you can tell when he gets really passionate about stuff…it’s amazing, like the newest MGMT. It’s crazy, but it’s also just really complicated. We've been listening to their new record a lot, though.

Photo Credit: Agatha Donker

So tell us about NYU, Brad. How does that work while you’re on the road?

B: I actually just decided to take the year off from school. I mean, I’m still a student at NYU, but I thought with everything that is going on I should take the year off. It was insane. I missed about a month and a half of school from touring…it was really stupid on my part. It was really stupid. I took eight classes last semester, and I have like five incompletes.

The ultimate goal is to just not go back, right?

B: Well, I mean, take a few years off, pull a James Franco, and go to a couple other schools, too. I mean, he’s thirty-three, and it’s fun to learn things. If you can be eighty-eight and pass on a million skills to your grandkids, why wouldn’t you?

Photo Credit: Agatha Donker

“Dead Girls Dance” – how the hell did that [song] end up on MTV’s Skins?

B: This really nice guy just asked me to do the music for Skins. Pretty simple. And shows like that seem to be really good about picking people who know good music to put that stuff together. Not saying our music is really good or anything, but they pick good people. Like my friend Young Man, who’s on [the label] Frenchkiss, and our friends Twin Sister also had a song in the same episode as us. But, to be honest, I’ve never watched the show.

Me either…

B: But my philosophy on that is MTV was once known for good music, and they’re not anymore, so if the only way it’s about good music now is they pick cool music for the background of their shows, and people look up those songs because they like them, then hey, different thing to the same effect.

So you mentioned your friends... And being in Brooklyn along with 300 bands who all have a name, or are getting one, is it competitive at all? Do you feel that at all?

B: No, not at all. Do you [Pete]?
P: No, I mean it’s saturated, but you’re kinda in your own bubble, anyway. Like, there are bands everywhere, but there are no band-offs or anything like that. (Laughs.) It just makes you more aware of how many people there are making music. Brooklyn makes sense for that, you know?

(Check comes, SIC picks up the bill.)

B: Thanks for getting that, man.

We’re an independent music blog, so we’re freaking rolling.

B: Haha – we’ll we’re an independent band, so that’s even worse.

We're here for you though, so that means you’re rolling a bit more than we are!

B: Haha – only in the literal sense, man.

Well, it was just hummus and tater tots.

B: Life is just hummus and tater tots.

Indeed it is. Thanks, guys.

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